St Hildas School

VE Day Celebrations

After all the horror, the austerity and the sadness of the Second World War, when 70 years ago Churchill announced Victory in Europe, the church bells rang out for the first time since war began and their happy sound echoed the celebrations which spontaneously erupted throughout the Allied Nations.

Families held street parties and Londoners congregated in Trafalgar Square to dance, drink, sing and hug complete strangers. St Hilda’s in Bushey was delighted to welcome Julia Rinkoff, a ninety-two year old great, great aunt to two St Hilda’s pupils, at the school’s own VE celebrations. Mrs Rinkoff had been a young woman proudly wearing her WRAF uniform when Victory in Europe was announced. Speaking in assembly to the school pupils aged 3 to 11, she explained how – as a Londoner - she dashed straight to Trafalgar Square to share in with the mass jubilation. As described the intensely shared elation, she said: “I knew nobody, but I knew everybody!”

The pupils of Year 6 gave an eloquent and very well-researched presentation to the school, which included original VE photos of Trafalgar Square, after which Mrs Rinkoff brought history to life as she recounted her experiences and answered questions from the pupils, who had all been asked to dress up in red, white and blue MUFTI.

The school was doubly honoured to receive the Mayor and Mayoress of Hertsmere, Cllr Carey Keates and Mrs Shirley Keates, who were also invited to share in the celebrations. The whole school, together with the guests of honour, rounded off the formal assembly with a big ‘street party’ in the school grounds. Long tables were decorated with red, white and blue table-clothes and bunting was hung from gazebos; all tucked into cucumber sandwiches and strawberry cakes, as they watched traditional maypole dancing, again from the Year 6 pupils who had been practising especially for the event. After admitting to a very late night following Polling Day the previous evening, the Mayor said he enjoyed his morning celebrations with the school very much.

One parent was moved to write to the Headmistress, Miss Styles, to thank her for arranging the VE celebrations. “I would also like to say how brilliant it was of the school to celebrate VE day on Friday. [Her daughters] Annabel and Georgia were so excited to tell me all about it in the evening. In fact when asked by a family member if they were joining in the celebrations over the weekend, the two of them burst into song singing We'll Meet Again. The girls were keen to watch BBC News and everything made sense to them.”

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